Saturday, June 3, 2017

Dying for Christmas by Tammy Cohen

Though this book is not my usual style, it came highly recommended by an acquaintance so I decided to give it a try.  It is a psychological thriller, or maybe best described as a character study.  It reminded me most of Gone Girl the way all my assumptions were turned around in the second half.  In some ways I thought it was better written as the twists were even more unpredictable.  That being said, it should not surprise you that my review will be brief so I do not ruin the suspense for anyone who decides to read this.

The story revolves around Jessica Gould who is kidnapped by Dominic Lacey on Christmas Eve.  Dominic intends to keep her prisoner for the twelve days of Christmas and gives her one bizarre gift after another every day.  The gifts give us insight into Dominic's dark past - in fact it is almost a lesson in how to make and detect a psychopath.  However, Jessica is so weird (she hears voices, seemingly blacks out and forgets large parts of her days...) that it was hard for me to develop as much sympathy for her as I probably should have.

The action alternates between Dominic and Jessica's story and that of Kim, the police officer assigned to the missing person's case when Jessica's family reports her mysterious disappearance.  Kim is struggling with her own issues as she tries to advance in the force at the expense of her marriage and family.  I found these interludes a welcome break from the dark descriptions of what occurred in Dominic's "prison".  It is through Kim that we also learn more about Jessica's boyfriends, parents, brothers and nieces and nephews.  These characters give us more insight into her and her past and show why she was likely somewhat vulnerable to Dominic's charms.

By the end we get a clear picture of all of the characters and what transpired in the days leading up to the kidnapping - and it was all believable though very surprising.  I wouldn't read this unless you have the stomach for some rather dark descriptive passages.

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